Bilal – Sourav Sarangi


A three-year-old boy named Bilal lives with his blind parents in the slums of Kolkata. Although he is very little, he already knows a lot about life and plays an important role in his family.


Synopsis of Bilal

A three-year-old boy named Bilal lives with his younger brother and their blind parents in a small room in a poor part of Kolkata. It’s dark in the room and almost nothing can be seen.

Due to the special circumstances of his parents, Bilal’s upbringing and care seems to be the shared responsibility of all his neighbors. Therefore, despite Bilal’s young age, the resourceful, playful boy already knows a lot about life and plays an important role in his family. He would place his mother’s hand where it needs to be cleaned and skillfully guide his father through the busy city traffic.

The film gives us a close-up look at the world of a child living in two worlds: that of the blind and that of those who can see.


1 hour 28 minutes* | English and Spanish subtitles | SD (1024×576)
India | 2008
Director/Producer: Sourav Sarangi
Production Company: Son et Lumière

*52-minute version is available for institutional use.

Awards & Film Festivals

1. Winner, Award of Excellence & Community Cinema Award, 2009 Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival
2. Official Selection, 2008 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam
3. Official Selection, 2009 Busan International Film Festival
4. Official Selection, 2009 Visions du Reél
5. Official Selection, 2009 Vancouver International Film Festival
6. Official Selection, 2009 Goa Indian Panorama at International Film Festival of India
7. Winner, Best Documentary of DOK.horizons, 2009 DOK.fest München
8. Official Selection, 2009 Krakow Film Festival
9. Official Selection, 2009 World Film Festival of Bangkok
And 60+ more.

Highlight Endorsement

“The sheer force of the conditions in which the film is shot, and its portrayal of very real suffering cannot be discounted.”
Shoma Chatterji, India Together

“The documentary inevitably reminds us of the darkness of ignorance that maintains a world beyond our vision because it is easier to live in the smugness of not knowing such misery.”
The International Angle

Reasons for Recommendation

1. Bilal has the rating of 7.4 on IMDB.
2. It shows the very different life and space in the slums of one of India’s largest cities, Kolkata.
3. You don’t see patronizing, pontification, and marginalizing the subject of the film in Bilal. Besides, director Sourav doesn’t attempt to evoke the viewer’s sympathy.
4. There isn’t hierarchical relationship between director Sourav and his subject when filming.

More Info

1. The Guardian: Filming the real Slumdog Millionaire
2. The Telegraph Online: Little boy sunshine
3. India Together: The darkness within
4. The International Angle: Their way of ‘looking’ at the world is through Bilal’s eyes
5. Interview on ebongin YouTube Channel
6. Interview on mesortiescine YouTube Channel

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